Volunteering in the Fairbanks Area

One of the backbones of Cooperative Extension Service is our volunteer program. Our volunteers work for years making a difference in the community and we appreciate their efforts. In return for the 40 hours of training received, Master Gardeners are required to complete 40 hours of community service to receive a Master Gardener patch — signifying they have completed all the necessary components of the program. A few of the most popular places to volunteer in the community are listed below. The district Extension agent also can help you find a volunteer activity suited to your talents and needs. You are responsible for contacting the volunteer coordinator and recording your hours on a volunteer time sheet. Once complete, return your time sheet to the Extension office for your honorary Master Gardener patch!

✿   Denali Center Greenthumb Program:   Denali Center is a residential nursing home facility in Fairbanks. The residents have a weekly Greenthumb gardening group that enjoys planting seeds, transplanting houseplants, arranging flowers and other easy gardening projects. They also have indoor planters in which to start bulbs. They often need two or three Master Gardeners to assist about two hours per week. Master Gardeners help design and implement a gardening program that involves the residents in the planting and caring for plants throughout the growing season. Contact Carol Switzer at 907-458-5107 or Carol.Switzer@bannerhealth.com .

✿   Fairbanks North Star Borough Animal Shelter:  Around the middle of May, volunteers are needed to help plan and design the FNSB Animal Shelter landscaping project. In late May, volunteers are needed to plant baskets, boxes and trees. Help is also needed throughout the summer with watering and weeding. Contact Suzanne Summerville at ssummerville@gmail.com .

 Golden Heart Plaza and Riverwalk Gardens:   Festival Fairbanks, a nonprofit community service organization, is the “caretaker” of Golden Heart Plaza and Riverwalk Gardens. Each year, Master Gardeners donate one day to planting annuals or pruning and shaping trees and perennial shrubs in the park. Contact the Festival Fairbanks office at 907-456-1984.

 Hospice of the Tanana Valley:   Master Gardeners donate plants for the annual May plant sale and help with publicity. Volunteers can also help plan the event, with meetings starting in early spring, or help in the greenhouse. Proceeds from the sale help pay for programs for families with terminally ill members. Contact Beth Vonnahme at 907-479-8974 or beth@alaska.net .

✿   Tanana Valley State Fair — Demonstration Garden, Judging and Booth Sitting:   Master Gardeners have numerous volunteer opportunities at the fair each year, including serving as judges in the fruits and vegetables and flower divisions, as consultants for displays and as extra hands for grounds beautification. They may also help out at public information booths. Contact Darcy Etcheverry at 907-474-2422 or ddetcheverry@alaska.edu .

 Flower Beds at UAF:   Master Gardeners instruct and assist other community members in planting flowers on campus. Planting typically takes place the last week of May. Contact UAF Facilities Services at 907-474-7000 for more information.

 Weeks Field Community Park:   Over the years, Master Gardeners have helped develop and care for the 13-acre park adjacent to the Noel Wien Library. The group meets Thursday mornings in the summer to tend perennial beds and trees, irrigate and fertilize, and generally care for the area. Children and dogs are always welcome at work parties. Contact Joan Robson at 907-457-6989 or joanrobson@gci.net , or Denise Bates at 907-456-5797 or dbates@mosquitonet.com .

 Annual Master Gardener Tour and Barbecue: More than 50 individuals attend the midsummer Master Gardener educational garden tour. This tour provides an opportunity to see the premier gardens of Fairbanks and discuss gardening methods that work in the Interior. Contact Emily Reiter, president of the Master Gardeners of the Tanana Valley, at 907-479-0803 or eareiter@alaska.edu.

 Kids’ After School Gardening Program:   Anyone interested in working with children in a gardening class should call Becky Hammer at 907-488-1809 or rahammer@alaska.net . Kids meet after school usually on Wednesdays in April and May from 3:15-4:30 p.m. at Weller Elementary School. About four fun activities are planned per session.

 Pioneer Park Gardeners:  The Master Gardener Association has established several beds at Pioneer Park, including a historical vegetable garden. Help is needed in planting and caring for the beds. Contact Emily Reiter, president of the Master Gardeners of the Tanana Valley, at 907-479-0803 or eareiter@alaska.edu.

 UAF Georgeson Botanical Garden and Walt Babula Children’s Garden:  Activities may include planting seeds, transplanting, maintaining the garden, harvesting vegetables, working in the gift shop and fund-raising events. Check out the list of jobs at http://georgesonbg.org/volunteer/ or contact the volunteer coordinator at 907-474-6921.

 Morris Thompson Cultural & Visitors Center:   Volunteers are needed especially in the early spring when flowers and vegetables need to be planted into the ground. Vegetables are donated to Stone Soup Café. Contact Jason Faris at 907-347-5877 or jason@morristhompsoncenter.org

 Other Volunteer Ideas:

  • Assist with plantings at Fairbanks Pioneers Home
  • Write articles for the Master Gardener Update newsletter
  • Assist Extension with homeowner site visits
  • Plant flowers at downtown bus stops
  • Judge gardens in the 4-H garden tour
  • Start a 4-H gardening club
  • Help plan garden activities at a local elementary school